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tracy properties

Posts Tagged ‘tracy properties’

Is Composite Decking More Eco-Friendly Than Cumaru?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Author: gwatson

You definitely have choices when it comes to quality decking. By far, wood decking is the most diverse and offers advantages that are unique to each species. Cumaru wood is one species known to be the most superior decking material available. It is a high quality natural material that is grown as a sustainable wood. Its durability, strength, versatility, and density make it the perfect option for any outdoor project. Cumaru is naturally durable and has a flame spread rating of Class A, the same as concrete or steel. Cumaru wood offers a lifespan well over 40 years without preservatives. If you do treat it, you can expect an average lifespan of over 80 years. Due to its strength and high density, it is also naturally resistant to rot, decay and damage from wood boring insects like termites. Its versatility makes it a great choice for both commercial and residential decking. Cumaru makes the most beautiful longest lasting decks in the world. Its density helps make Cumaru remain smooth and splinter free. It doesn’t absorb water, twist, splinter, or bow like softer woods.

Cumaru wood is also extremely rich in color and appearance. Its color varies from a golden tan to reddish brown with some dark grain accents throughout the wood. It has an irregular, slightly interlocked grain which is coarse and wavy in texture. Unlike most exotics, Cumaru endures very little color change due to sun light. Its color will slightly mute over time into a more consistent color. It is also very low maintenance and easy to work with. Cumaru wood is far greater than most composite decking products.

Composite decking tries to compete with high end decking materials, but is unable to when it comes to quality. It is made of a mixture of recycled materials and glue. The recycled materials typically consist of a 50/50 mixture of wood fibers and waste plastic. This plastic includes high density polyethylene and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Many people think that because composite decking uses recyclable resources it is eco-friendly. That is not the case because PVC is known as a toxic plastic and is obviously not good for the environment. Due to the manufacturing process of composite decking, it is extremely porous and soaks up water very easily. This causes it to be prone to rot, decay, mildew, mold and fungus. Also, it will expand and contract according to the temperature, causing loosening of screws and plates. Many of the cleaners for composite decking are extremely dangerous and clean only the surface.

Composite decking products claim to be cost competitive, but they are actually significantly more expensive than real wood products. When you factor in installation costs, maintenance fees, and possible replacement costs, it turns out to be much more expensive than a wood deck made of Cumaru.

Most composite decking materials haven’t been thoroughly tested, but it sure has been thoroughly marketed. This causes home owners to think that composite decking is a great choice. However, with some research, you can find complaints and problems about the quality of the product. You can avoid all this and simply build a deck with Cumaru. Cumaru wood is the ideal choice in decking.

Discover why wood decking such as Cumaru and other species of Brazilian Hardwood is superior to composite decking materials. Grayer Watson enjoys building decks, installing floors and working with people to make their homes better.

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Evaluating the Schools in Your New Neighborhood

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

If your family includes kids and you’re thinking about moving to a new area, the schools are be among your first considerations. Does the neighborhood have good schools? Are the teachers and staff well-equipped to teach your children? Is there a good PTA that addresses the concerns of parents? These are pertinent questions you might need to look into before you commit to a decision on a new home.

Graduation Rate

Especially for families that have children who are in high school, the school’s graduation percentage may have a bearing on the decision. Schools that do not have good graduation rates have a bad reputation are categorically coming up short in their most basic job. For this reason, many parents want to live in neighborhoods where the high schools have a good graduation percentage that shows a dedication to a good education.

Standardized Test Scores

When you are checking out an area’s schools, one of the primary things to look into is the overall test score rankings. While these are not the only thing you should consider in judging the quality of a school, as some parents appear to believe, they can be a good indicator of how good the teachers are at the overall charter of providing their students a relevant education. Some high schools may even disclose the average ACT or SAT scores achieved by their students to be an indication of their competitive success rate.

Per Capita Expenditures

Some websites will disclose how much a school district budgets and spends to educate each student each year. This is the amount they provide to ensure that each student has everything they need for success in their academic career. The per-capita figure includes teacher salary, books, supplies and other equipment and classroom materials that are involved in the education process.

Location

Finding a neighborhood in which schools are located close by is the ideal situation for parents with young children. When your home is situated close to the schools, you can walk with your small children to and from school each day. If you have a busy schedule, your kids can walk to and from school by themselves as they get older. It’s a terrific way for them (and you!) to get fresh air and good exercise besides.

Ratio of Students to Teachers

How many students there are for each teacher is often thought of as playing a big role in the successful outcome of the education process. The national average is between 16 and 17 students for each classroom, though as school districts are experiencing budget pressures that may be on the increase. In a school that goes over those numbers by too much of a margin, your child may not get the individualized attention they need if and when it is needed.

Enrichment Activities and Clubs

Have you looked into whether the schools in your new home’s district offer extracurricular activities? Do the schools have interesting groups and enrichment classes that will keep your young students involved in learning? This could be a major factor when you are making a decision about a new area to live.

Schools are one of the biggest factors of your decision when you are deciding on a new home. You want to find a place where your kids are comfortable and a place where you feel comfortable as well. By carefully researching schools in the different areas where you’re considering a next home, you can find the best place for you and your entire family in one spot.

If you ever want to check out Longmont CO real estate for sale, it’s easy to Search Colorado real estate at Automated Homefinder.


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Will A 5-Day Delivery Schedule Save The U.S. Postal Service?

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

According to the U.S. Postal Service, they will lose $23 billion a year for the next ten years if something doesn’t happen right away.

Since its inception 235 years ago, the USPS has not only delivered the mail, but profits as well. Not so much anymore; in 2008 the USPS agency began to lose money for the first time in their history.

By the end of this fiscal year, the U.S. Postal Service will have lost an additional $7 billion, and will owe the U.S. Government $13.8 billion. By the year 2020, the USPS will have lost an astonishing 238 billion dollars.

But the Postal Service has a plan to save itself – a plan that cost them $5 billion to develop.

The plan, believe it or not, is to simply stop delivering mail on Saturdays.

The U.S. Postal Service says that by delivering mail only five days a week, they will save an estimated $3.5 billion a year. The Postal Regulatory Commission however thinks the savings will be more like $1.9 billion. But either way, the money saved isn’t nearly the amount the agency is projected to lose.

The PRC will likely take six to nine months to crunch the numbers. If it approves the plan, the issue goes to Congress, which has been circling the growing fiscal crisis of the post office for nine years now, ever since the Government Accountability Office placed it on a “high-risk list.” For the last several years, Postmaster General John Potter, who makes $845,000 a year and has struggled to bring the agency into the 21st century in his nine years on the job, has asked Congress for a number of fiscal fixes. In 2003, Congress reduced the Postal Service’s pension costs by about $9 billion. In 2006, it relieved the agency of $27 billion in pension obligations to employees with military service. And last year, Congress cut the agency’s annual retiree health benefits by $4 billion. With each fix came a promise of “fiscal solvency” from Potter, so to say that Congress is losing patience with the Postal Service is an understatement. Even if the House and Senate do pass the plan to cut Saturday delivery, it’ll be a miracle if that happens before the plan is set to go into effect in 2011. In the meantime, the Postal Service will just keep losing money and probably raising postage rates, which it has done eight times since 1999.

Full Article Lost in the Mail By Matthew Philips, Newsweek

So what do you think? Will a 5-day delivery schedule save the day?


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The Wrong Way to Invest in Real Estate

Monday, March 15th, 2010

By William Bronchick

“Real estate fever” . . . it’s hit the Country like a plague. Zillions of “newbies” are hitting the bandwagon, trying to make a profit where they lost in the stock market. I meet them all the time, and many are making big mistakes!

Mistake #1: Stock Market Mentality

You’d think after losing $7 trillion in the stock market people would have learned! Nope, they are making the same mistake, which is assuming what happened yesterday will happen tomorrow. Nine of ten new investors I meet say they are interested in real estate because they saw someone else make money from the rapid appreciation of the market over the last few years. But, buying real estate solely for short-term appreciation is often a big gamble! If you buy real estate to hold for 15 years or more, the chances are you will come out on top. If you buy a property and flip it in within a year, you probably are fine, too. And, despite the risk, many people can intelligently time the “boom” of a local market (or subdivision within a market) and make a profit. But, if you buy a rental property for full market price with break even or negative cash flow, you’d better have a backup plan if the market doesn’t keep going up. Investing is a lot like surfing… if you don’t know how to ride the wave, you will drown!

So, should you refrain from investing if you think the market has peaked? Absolutely not! You can find bargain-priced properties in every real estate market, even the hottest. You can find low-interest rate financing that will increase your cash flow so if values drop, you still are covered. You can plan short-term (six to 12 months), because real estate markets rise and fall slowly. And, if you keep a cash reserve for your business, you won’t sweat when the market tanks, because you know that in the long run, real estate markets virtually always come back.

Mistake #2: Investing Blind

You’d think after losing $7 trillion in the stock market people would have learned! Nope, they are making the same mistake, which is blindly buying real estate based on bogus advice or complete lack of education. Real estate is one of the few investments in which risk is directly proportional to knowledge. True, it has a higher learning curve than investing in the stock market, but there’s no proof that having knowledge of the stock market reduces risk (just ask your mutual fund manager).

I read a comment on a real estate discussion group on the Internet. In response to an inquiry as to whether a particular seminar or training program was worth the money, someone answered, “Why waste your money on that stuff? Just use your money as a down payment and learn as you go.” This is probably the worst advice you could ever give a beginner. Money for real estate deals is easy to find if you can find good deals. But, you won’t know what a good deal is without having first invested in your education!

The more knowledge of real estate investing techniques, financing, acquisition, negotiating and, of course, your local marketplace, the less risky your investments will be. A bargain real estate purchase will generally always be a safe investment; a bargain stock purchase isn’t – after all, who says the company you bought into will be in business next year?

Mistake #3: No Cash Reserves

Ask anyone in real estate long term (or any other business, for that matter) and they will tell you the two most important words for survival are: “cash flow.” Heck, even K-Mart failed to learn that valuable lesson!

In order to stay in real estate long term, you need cash reserves. Buying real estate nothing down is easy; handling negative cash flow, repairs and other expenses in the meantime is the trick. In fact, if you can handle the bad times, real estate will always make you come out on top. Lack of cash reserves puts unnecessary pressure on you to do substandard repairs, accept less than qualified tenants and give into tenants’ demands for fear of vacancy.

When you have a sufficient cash reserve, you act rationally. You hold out for a higher sales price. You hold out for a qualified tenant. You leave properties vacant rather than rent to low-lifes. You call a tenant’s bluff when they threaten to leave. You take care of necessary repairs and improvements on your properties. It’s a whole different ballgame than operating from a lack of cash. Like I said, buying properties with no money down isn’t hard; it’s handling the cash flow. In other words, you can buy real estate without money, you just can’t survive in business without cash reserves. Thus, consider accumulating cash reserves before investing in rental properties.

Mistake #4: Being Greedy

Many investors get started flipping properties to other investors, which is a good idea to generate cash reserves. However, you must be realistic about how much profit is in a deal. If there is a potential for a $20,000 profit in a rehab project, you can’t expect to make $10,000 flipping that property to a rehabber. A rehabber has a huge risk in embarking in such a project and wants a large enough profit to justify the risk.

For example, if a house needs $10,000 in repairs, the rehabber investor wants to make at least a $20,000 profit. If you find a deal with $20,000 in profit potential, how could you expect to get $10,000 for flipping the property if the rehab investor you flip it to is only going to make $10,000? You should be happy making $2,500 and moving on to the next deal. If you want to make more than $2,500 on such a deal, then you must find and negotiate a better bargain that has more profit potential.

Mistake #5: Treating Real Estate as Anything Other Than a Business

People are lured to real estate because of the quick buck that it promises. Don’t hold your breath, you won’t get rich quick. An “overnight sensation” usually takes about five years. More than ninety percent of the people who take a real estate seminar quit after three months.

Why the high fallout rate? Lack of action and unrealistic expectations. Real estate investing should be treated with the seriousness of a career. It takes months, even years for a business to cultivate customers and have a life of its own. You need to treat real estate like any other business. Give yourself at least six months to see if real estate works for you. It may even take a year before you buy your first property. Maybe in the second year you will buy three or four properties. If you work hard at it and keep your eyes and ears open, you may even find your first deal in 30 days. Certainly, you will not make money by talking or thinking about it; you must go out and take action.

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What To Expect In Your Closing Costs

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Escrow and Interest Fees include any or all of the following:

  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Loan Interest
  • Private Mortgage Insurance
  • Real Estate Taxes

Lender Fees cover charges for:

  • Loan Processing
  • Underwriting
  • Establishing an Escrow Account

Third-party Fees are for such things as:

  • Hazard Insurance
  • Title Searches
  • Property Inspections

Government Fees include:

  • Deed Recording
  • Local Mortgage Taxes
  • State Mortgage Taxes

Never sign off on any closing costs that you do not understand; always ask your Realtor to fully explain each fee to you.

real estate closing costs what to expect